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FEA model of the ferrofluid vessel. a) Geometry
(units in cm), b) Loads and boundary conditions, c) Mesh.

FEA model of the ferrofluid vessel. a) Geometry (units in cm), b) Loads and boundary conditions, c) Mesh.

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Liquid sloshing represents a major challenge for the design and operation of space vehicles. In low-gravity environments, a highly non-linear movement can be produced due to the lack of stabilizing forces. This gives rise to significant disturbances that impact on the propulsion and attitude control systems of the spacecraft. The employment of magn...

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Citations

... Other strategies remain largely unexplored. The idea of using magnetic fields for active control, proposed decades ago, was recently taken up and shown to be effective for ferrofluid-based propellants [28]. Even more recently, Refs. ...
... Other strategies remain largely unexplored. For example, the idea of using magnetic fields for active control of sloshing, first proposed in the early 1960s, was recently revisited by Romero-Calvo et al. [28,43] to show that ferrofluid-based propellants can be an effective alternative for active control, since magnetic forces both increase the natural frequencies and enhance the stability properties of the system. This approach has already been envisaged as a strategy to restart liquid propellant engines during secondary stages of rockets [44] and has found applications, not only in propellant management, but in phase separation and electrolysis [45] in microgravity, where passive magnets are used to force the motion of bubbles generated during the process and increase its overall efficiency. ...
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Present and future challenges of space exploration require better and improved strategies for fluid control and management. The “Thermocapillary-based control of a free surface in microgravity” (ThermoSlosh) experiment aims to contribute directly to current knowledge and basic understanding of fluid phenomena in reduced gravity, in particular, to study the effectiveness of thermal forcing for fluid control in weightlessness and applications. The experiment proposes to analyze the dynamics of a free surface in a cylindrical cell, half filled with 5 cSt silicone oil, subjected to controlled temperatures and accelerations. Simulations suggest that the thermocapillary effect can be used in microgravity to control the orientation of the free surface within the cell. The response of the free surface to the applied thermal gradient is characterized using the rise time, the stabilization time, and the overshoot; these representative quantities further help evaluating the effectiveness of the strategy. The use of supplemental vibrations is shown to improve the overall performance of the thermal control. Finally, among various potential applications, the ability to control sloshing motion during the real microgravity scenario of an ISS reboosting maneuver is assessed. ThermoSlosh was recently presented to the International Space Science and Scientific Payload competition, and is part of the selected proposals for the competition final.
... The problem of liquid sloshing under microgravity and aerospace applications were also deeply analyzed (Ibrahim 2001). The sloshing of magnetic liquids in microgravity and the application in space propulsion were discussed by Romero-Calvo et al. (2020. Thermocapillary-driven dynamics of a free surface in microgravity was studied by Gligor et al. (2022a, b) and measures of control of sloshing were presented. ...
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... An exception is the European Space Agency (ESA) Drop Your Thesis! 2017 The Ferros project, that studied the axisymmetric sloshing of water-based ferrofluids when subjected to an inhomogeneous magnetic field in microgravity [39][40][41]. Although the axisymmetric and lateral sloshing of ferrofluids were also studied during the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA) DropTES 2019 experiment StELIUM [42][43][44], statistical significance was not achieved for the axisymmetric modes [45]. Therefore, the configuration of the Drop Your Thesis! 2017 experiment is adopted in this work. ...
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... Subsequent publications by Marchetta and coworkers presented refined numerical models and results of technical relevance for the development of liquid oxygen magnetic positioning devices [46][47][48][49][50][51][52][53][54]. Recent works have also explored the free surface oscillations of ferrofluids in microgravity, which may be relevant for slosh control and the development of novel PMDs [55][56][57][58][59][60]. A comprehensive review of the field can be found in Ref. 28. Significant advances have been made in the modeling and fundamental understanding of MP 2 devices during the last two decades. ...
... employed to position the liquid. Furthermore, electrical problems have not been observed in previous magnetic liquid sloshing experiments[57]. ...
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... This phenomenon is known as magnetic buoyancy and has been applied to terrestrial boiling experiments with ferrofluids 37,38 . Previous works on low-gravity magnetohydrodynamics have explored the diamagnetic manipulation of air bubbles in water 39,40 , the positioning of diamagnetic materials 41 , air-water separation 42 , protein crystal growth 43 , magnetic-positive positioning 44,45 , magnetic liquid sloshing 46,47 , and combustion enhancement 40 , among others. The application of Lorentz's force on liquid electrolytes has also been studied as a way to enhance hydrogen production [48][49][50] . ...
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... Other strategies remain largely unexplored. For example, the idea of using magnetic fields for active sloshing control, first proposed in the early 1960s, was recently taken up by Romero-Calvo et al., 68 Romero-Calvo et al. 69 to show that ferrofluid-based propellants can be an effective alternative for active control since magnetic forces both enhance the stability properties and increase the natural frequencies of the system. Here, we extend the work of Gligor et al. 46 and consider a new strategy that relies on oscillatory thermal forcing to help control and suppress the type of unwanted sloshing motion that can easily be excited by external accelerations and g-jitter in microgravity environments. ...
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Numerical simulations are used to analyze the dynamics of a free surface excited by thermal modulations at the lateral boundaries that generate a time-dependent thermocapillary flow. Fluid parameters are selected to be representative of 5 cSt silicone oil. Following the work of Gligor et al. [“Thermocapillary-driven dynamics of a free surface in microgravity: Response to steady and oscillatory thermal excitation,” Phys. Fluids 34, 042116 (2022)], the response of the free surface to oscillatory thermal excitation is characterized by the displacement of the contact points, and a frequency sweep is used to obtain a Bode-type diagram that reveals a resonance peak in the vicinity of the first sloshing mode. The ability of the thermocapillary flow to excite this sloshing mode suggests a control strategy that uses thermal modulations to dampen sloshing motion. After the response of the isothermal surface to a generic pulse-like inertial perturbation is measured, a classical proportional integral derivative control is implemented and the effect of its gains is considered separately. The efficacy of the controller is characterized by the decay time of the contact point oscillations and by a cost function. The effect of possible delays in the control loop is accounted for. Finally, a controller with a derivative gain is selected and used to dampen the motion induced by a reboosting maneuver of the International Space Station.
... DropTES 2019 StELIUM experiment, whose design is described in Refs. [39][40][41], was subsequently launched at the ...
... The experimental setup of StELIUM, depicted in Fig. 2, is designed to operate in a 9.3 s catapult launch at ZARM's drop tower [57]. The system, that is thoroughly described in Ref. 39, is subdivided into two identical assemblies that The evolution of the free surface is captured by a custom device located on top of each container. A laser line is pointed at the surface of the ferrofluid while a camera records its projection. ...
... [35][36][37][38][39][40][41][42][43] Recent works have also explored the free surface oscillations of ferrofluids in microgravity, which may be relevant for slosh control and the development of novel propellant management devices (PMDs). [44][45][46][47][48][49] A comprehensive review of the field can be found in Ref. 19. ...
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The active deorbiting and passivation of launch vehicles has become key for the implementation of modern space debris mitigation guidelines. Appropriate engine restart conditions must be provided as part of this process. Ullage motors have been traditionally employed to induce active settling and ensure a gas-free propellant supply to the engines. Although robust and reliable, ullage rockets are also heavy, which motivates the study of alternative approaches to the problem. This paper explores for the first time several high-risk-high-return propellant settling strategies that may result in significant benefits for future space systems. In particular, three distinct Magnetic Positive Positioning concepts, a hydrogen-peroxide-based Propellant Gasification System, and a hybrid device that combines both approaches are introduced. The preliminary feasibility analysis indicates that the successful development of these technologies may lead to mass savings of hundreds of kilograms and economic gains of several hundred thousand dollars per launch. However, the robustness of some of these methods may be compromised by complex fluid-structure interactions that require a careful numerical and/or experimental analysis.
... This is in line with other papers which discuss the design, development and characterization of experiments and test facilities in the space sciences as a valuable component of prior literature, as informed by Refs. [37][38][39][40][41][42]. ...
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... In the framework of the UNOOSA DropTES programme, the StELIUM (Sloshing of magnEtic LIqUids in Microgravity) microgravity experiment was launched at ZARM's drop tower in November 2019. The experiment studied the axisymmetric and lateral oscillations of a ferrofluid solution subjected to an inhomogeneous magnetic field in microgravity [34]. Most of the aforementioned liquid level measurement methods require expensive hardware components, complex post-processing, large and delicate setups, transparent liquids, or direct contact with the fluid. ...
... The total mass of the experiment, including the platforms, is approximately 60 Kg. The system has an overall volume of 930 × 530 × 295 mm 3 [34]. ...
... In this way, the pre-programmed automation routines can be launched when requested. The electrical connections among the different elements are described in Ref. [34]. ...
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This paper describes an inexpensive, non-invasive, and highly adaptable surface reconstruction device for opaque liquids. The instrument was developed to study the lateral sloshing of ferrofluids in microgravity as part of the UNOOSA DropTES 2019 StELIUM project. Its design is driven by the geometrical and mechanical constraints imposed by ZARM’s drop tower, where the experiment was launched in November 2019. The launch catapult and deceleration systems impose strong axial g-loads to a system that is confined in the reduced capsule environment. Redundant procedures are implemented to measure the first two lateral sloshing frequencies and damping ratios of the magnetic liquid, as well as its equilibrium surface in microgravity. Ideal vertical resolutions between 0.25 and 0.4 mm/px can be achieved with the configuration here proposed. The final performance depends, among other factors, on the correct application of the robust calibration procedure that is documented in this work.